Chances are if you are on Facebook you have come across this article. Recently a mall in B.C. underwent a major renovation and as part of that renovation they removed play structures and installed iPads. While I have experienced the benefits of whipping out a phone or tablet when out and about I just can’t believe that they would take away a child’s only safe place to run around when at the mall with mom. When I was a mom with young kids I made it a point to head to the mall that had a play structure, especially on the days when the weather was less than ideal for playing outside. The kids could burn off some steam and I could, for the most part, sit and enjoy a coffee or a snack.
It’s not enough that our kids are inundated with screens almost from the time they wake up until they go to bed at night. Now they constantly have something in their hands, heads down, and are so immersed in what’s in their hands that they miss the wonder that’s happening around them. I limit how much screen time my kids get, but it really is starting to feel like I am losing the battle. At school the kids spend most of their days hunched over desks, often working on tablets, recess has been shortened and no touching rules implemented, gym time is almost non-existent, and they are sent home with so much homework that if they have any free time after supper they are lucky.
Trips in the car, at the store, or even while visiting friends and family means kids sit in front of screens so that they are seen and not heard. When did it become such a bad thing for children to learn proper behavior in public? When did distracting our kids become more important that engaging our kids in life? Sure it isn’t always easy. The kids want to be able to sit and veg, much like we did when we were young. The difference, at least for me, is that in my house the TV was something reserved for the adults save for lunch in front of the Flintstones and Saturday morning cartoons. We had no computers, no tablets, and no smartphones in our pockets offering almost constant distraction. We went outside, we got dirty, we even got into trouble occasionally. We also learned how to solve problems, be friends and help our neighbors.
We try very hard to limit the amount of screen time the kids get, even going so far as ditching cable. Sure my kids complain, I get epic eye rolls on the daily, but I have seen changes for the better in my kids, and in myself by doing so. Technology is a wonderful thing, but like everything it needs to be used in moderation. Put the tablets down and pick up some crayons. Turn off the TV and head out to the playground. Get off the couch and explore your neighborhood. You’ll be glad you did.